TEXAS ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS ARE ON A RECORD-BREAKING POWER USAGE SPREE
Texas customers shattered the state’s previous all-time 71,110 megawatt high for power usage last Wednesday and Thursday, reports the Chronicle’s L.M. Sixel. And today, they’ve done it again: 73,217 megawatts is the current demand, according to ERCOT, the operator that supplies most of the state’s energy. (It’s expected to increase through the late afternoon, peaking at around 5 p.m.) That’s enough juice to power, well, the entire state of Texas during a heatwave. But is it enough to overwhelm the state’s proudly independent power infrastructure? Unlikely, says at least one expert at UT’s Energy Institute. Although 2 NRG subsidiaries did send out emails last week pleading with their customers to ease up on the A/C and take other watt-saving measures. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of electric lines between 59 and Westpark Dr.: Swamplox inbox
2100 MEMORIAL’S EVICTION ORDER, COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED A statement from the Houston Housing Authority yesterday says it “is making every effort to comply” with a judge’s temporary restraining order issued last week ordering the public agency to fix the fire-safety systems at the 14-story 2100 Memorial senior living apartment complex, test the building’s electrical transformers, and replace them if necessary. Judge Daryl Moore also prohibited the authority from terminating the leases of any of its tenants without demonstrating better cause than it has. An estimated 80 percent of the former Holiday Inn’s residents have already moved out. [Houston Chronicle; more; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Realtor.com
COMMENT OF THE DAY: BEHIND THE ‘EVERYBODY OUT’ ORDER AT 2100 MEMORIAL “I’ve volunteered there and can tell you the entire ‘sub-basement’ electrical/fire control room was completely submerged. I assume that entities receiving government rent subsidies must meet current NEC (nat’l elect code) standards on renovations/repairs. . . . Thus, if entire elect/fire control room is gutted/replaced then all rooms’ receptacles, fixtures, elevators, laundries . . . etc. must be replaced to meet current NEC also. I doubt you can ‘scab on’ new equipment to decades old equipment on a major renovations. Would you trust it?
You can’t make this type of systemic overhaul while residents stay in their unflooded upper floor apts. Unfortunately, for their safety they must be moved ASAP. The existing lights and limited A/C are being run off of generators. You can’t run a hi-rise indefinitely on generators.
God forbid a fire breaks out or an elevator fails due to faulty electrical system. Help is needed now finding affordable & safe housing, transport, and followup assistance. Hard enough in ‘normal’ times but that much more difficult post-Harvey.” [Steve, commenting on Residents of 2100 Memorial Senior Highrise Now Have 5 Days To Move Out of Their ‘Uninhabitable’ Apartments] Photo: 2100 Memorial
Residents of the Rio Brazos area near Cumings Rd. north of Rosharon are being advised as of this afternoon to boil their tap water until further notice, while the Fort Bend County Fresh Water Supply District 2 sorts out possible problems stemming from a flood-related loss of water pressure in the network. (The map included here has been added to the Fort Bend County emergency office’s Facebook page following a brief online outpouring of confusion as to what neighborhoods the warning was actually targeting.)
Meanwhile, TXDOT is still listing dozens of miles of roadways as covered by to high water as of this morning, with more closures expected as Brazos floodwaters drain southwest toward Angleton and Freeport. Here’s Brazoria County’s latest worst case scenario potential floodmap, with the county’s mandatory evacuation zones now stretching across more than 15 miles from roughly Brazos Bend State Park to the outskirts of Angleton:
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Water, Water Everywhere
These crop duster-height shots of 12 acres of solar paneling were snagged above FM 3013 half a mile south of Gebhardt Rd., where Harvest Moon Renewable Energy Company is getting ready to bring its juice to market in Sealy and Houston areas served by CenterPoint Energy. According to a fresh-from-the-farm press release, the plant’s 15,000-and-then-some solar panels, blossoming on the end of more than 1,000 steel posts, should produce around 2.5 million kilowatt-hours of power each year (bundled into the 952 million kWh the EPA says Houston uses annually). MP2 Energy will take care of the actual selling, and plans to fill in the gaps from the solar supply with power bought from other renewable sources.
Harvest Moon’s president Joey Romano, who previously developed the solar-focused Mirabeau B. apartments on Waugh at Hyde Park, is now running the operation with founder and CEO Joe Romano, formerly CEO of Contango Oil & Gas and CFO of Zilhka Energy. The company plans to allow customers to tour the family farm, but you can also watch the panel crop grow online — the company took a time-lapse video of the 120-day installation, which wrapped up late last year:
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Fresh from the Photovoltaic Module
CITY OF HOUSTON WATER UTILITIES WEBSITE HACKED OVER THE WEEKEND A reader sends a screenshot of the Houston water utilities customer service website as it appeared around 1 AM on Sunday. A source working for the city confirms that the page was briefly redecorated over the weekend; the hack was reported around 5:30 AM that Sunday and resolved later that morning. Prior to discovery of the switchup, all links to city information and services were replaced by a black screen that appeared to spin into place, containing only the graphic shown here, a few online handles taking credit for the takeover, and a short message taunting the site’s administrators. A cached version of the nonfunctional but admittedly edgier homepage was still accessible through a Google search for the page as late as yesterday afternoon. Screen capture: Swamplot inbox
THE PARTS OF TOWN WHERE THOSE STREETCORNER MINI MURALS ARE POPPING UP If you’re wondering where you can find more of those painted-over traffic signal control boxes —- like the one pictured here, which just appeared at the corner of Stella Link and Latma Dr. in Woodside — there’s a . . . website for that. UP Art Studio, the mural project’s instigators, has pics up of more than 2 dozen of the altered streetcorner cabinets colorfully transformed by artists so far, as well as an interactive map for scouting them out. The project is restricted (so far, at least) to the southwest part of town inside the Beltway. In all, 14 artists have been commissioned to reimagine 31 metal boxes. [UP Art Studio] Photo: 2:12
NEW IPHONE APP BUGS YOU WHEN IT’S TIME TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH, BUT REFUSES TO DO IT FOR YOU A local CTO who knows his way around iOS programming but had trouble at first figuring out what day the garbage trucks are supposed to come by is behind a simple app that became available on Apple’s App Store just last week. Kenton Gray’s Rollout! Houston was one of the winners of the citywide Hackathon in May. The free program can’t help you lift or pull bins or navigate a path from back yard to front yard around your lot-filling townhouse, but it does do one thing well: inform you of the next pickup day for garbage, recycling, and heavy trash for whatever City of Houston location you’re in. Oh, and then it does one more thing: It lets you set reminders for each. [Houston Chronicle; App Store link]
SEWAGE NOW FLOWING PROPERLY UNDER GULF FWY. AGAIN That pipe break spotted underneath an I-45 South overpass leaking what appeared to be raw sewage onto a concrete path adjacent to Brays Bayou last week has now been repaired — or at least covered with a new sleeve. A photo of the fix also shows flood-remnant bouquets still intact along the pipe’s length at the bayou crossing south of Idylwood and just east of Telephone Rd. Photo: Allyn West
There’s a busted pipe hanging under the Gulf Fwy. overpass as it crosses Brays Bayou, just east of Telephone Rd. and south of Idylwood in the East End. The pics shown here were taken late yesterday afternoon, though some sort of liquid had been seen dripping from the break at various points over the weekend.
Grassy remnants of last week’s high water on Brays Bayou can still be seen hanging from various points along the pipe’s length:
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: WILL THE NEW BIKE TRAIL SYSTEM BE THIS SHOCKING? “Here’s something a little off topic but has to do with putting trails on power easements. Has anyone ever experienced what happens when you ride under the lines down the dirt road in Memorial Park? The electromagnetic field actually shocks you where you are touching the frame or handlebars especially during peak Summer usage hours and when sweaty. Not sure if that’s ever been addressed.” [j, commenting on FPSF Moving Next to the Astrodome; I-10 Toll Hike Delay; Secrets of the I-45 Redo Plan] Illustration: Lulu
A couple of readers have sent in pics of the curious driveway installation at 2115 Taft St. just south of Welch St. just over the eastern border from Montrose, on the former site of the Taft St. Coffee House and Ecclesia Church. The utility pole dates from the lot’s former inhabitants; the courteous flatwork has been built around it for later patching. “In case you are wondering,” writes one of our tipsters, “the space on either side is not wide enough for a car to pass, nor does the driveway go all the way through to the next street.”
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The Townhomes Are Coming
A LOOK AT SOME OF THE LIQUID POO FLOWING ONTO COLQUITT ST. IN MONTROSE A reader wants to be sure Swamplot readers are alerted — as city inspectors, the HPD’s environmental division, and the property manager have already been, the reader says — to the “recurring” problem of raw sewage flowing out from the Takara-So Apartments at 1919 W. Main St. and into neighboring storm drains. The photo at left, taken on Monday, shows the sewage (“you can smell it”) along Colquitt St., pausing for a bit of sun on its way to lower-lying bayous and waterways. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox
Without making a big alert-the-neighbors fuss about it, CenterPoint Energy appears to have begun expanding the electrical substation across the street from the new Alexan Heights apartment complex going up on Yale St. into an adjacent vacant lot, a reader reports. Crews began breaking up the 6,600-sq.-ft. lot’s concrete surface yesterday. CenterPoint has owned the lot at 612 Yale St. since 2004, according to county tax records, though the neighboring 6th and Yale Collision and Repair shop had often used it as parking space.
The lot appears at the top center of this recent aerial view of apartment construction and the substation:
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